• Chrissie Nicholson-Wild

light up the night!

This week one of my favourite costumes came back in for an upgrade. Every so often the coolest costume idea drops in your inbox that literally makes you fist bump the air....this was one of those costumes!

So this costume all started when I posted up a robot inspired mood board on my Instagram and one of my regular clients got in touch...and the best thing about my clients request is that she wanted it to light up.

Well that got me wired!

Then she told me that we only had three weeks until performance day...….ack!

So I whipped out my sketchbook immediately and got cracking. After my first few sketches didn't quite hit the mark I literally has to get back to the drawing board and stick closer to the original brief as requested. Designs go through several stages, this is just one of them that I chose to develop because I liked it the most...but it wasn't the one my client picked in the end...

And with a bit of too and froing on whatsapp with my client we had a working idea of our costume, a budget and even picked out the boots to go with.

Once the design was set I had just over two weeks to execute the design ready for show day. The next step was doing a bit of research and ordering the materials required. I had never used electrics in a costume before but I had a good idea that I would need to use luminescent wire, or EL wire to get the Tron-esque look that I was going for.

My client really wanted to use PVC as the main fabric look, it is slick and sexy and matched the boots she had picked. So I came up with ways to use PVC as the main decorative fabric and using lycra to make the parts of the costume where stretch was needed. Once materials were ordered I cracked on with pattern cutting.

Sometimes synergy just happens, and that was the case with this costume....it just seemed to flow and develop itself. Until the electrics arrived anyway...

I usually have a good grasp of what I need to do in advance, but I knew this one was going to stretch my skills as I had never worked with EL wire before ...and it completely put the frighteners on me at first. But my Mum and Dad are both electrical engineers....so I knew that if I knuckled down I could figure it out.

I found some really great information online on how to use EL wire in costumes. If you fancy a go yourself I highly recommend these two sites for information and inspiration: Adafruit and Enlightened. After checking out all my available options of EL wire I chose to use an insertion piping, where the wire is encased in clear plastic and has a lip that can be sewn within the seam of the garment for the neatest possible finish.

Once the costume was built, but before the electrics were completed we did a fitting, I think there was just under a week before deadline. I have made a couple of costumes for Chloe already so there was little alterations to make...but we needed to test the parameters of the costume and sort out any teething problems.

  1. the costume needed to stretch in the right places but stay in place

  2. the jacket needed to house the battery pack so we needed to figure out where that should be placed

  3. the suspender belt needed to clip onto the boots and not ping off.

When a costume has to be danced in and flung about on a stage there are a lot more things to think about than if a model is just walking and posing and it has to be far more robust.

The costume was collected the day before the show, and only finished the night previous.

Now the costume has had it's debut on stage it has come back in for it's upgrade. The light up jacket is fabulous, but I always intended to light up on the suspender belt and add a bit more detail to the jacket. Working with EL wire requires planning, I have one power source which must be powerful enough to light the whole length of wire and the wire has to be in one unbroken length, which I will have to hide the bits I don't want to light up within the costume. Here I had to use a hands on method of pinning on elastic to trace the line of the wire as drawing it out just got too confusing.

So as of today this is where I am at....planning done, extra materials ordered. When the costume is complete I will post an update.

#couturepolecostume #misscbikini #bespokecostume #troncostume